General Motors Co. said it will take about six months and an unknown amount of money to restore the 1-millionth Chevrolet Corvette off the assembly line that was heavily damaged when it plunged into a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The automaker showed the smashed and dirty 1992 white convertible with red interior to the media at a studio ahead of work it expects to begin early next year. The car, which was given by GM to the museum, was one of eight Corvettes that fell into a 30-foot deep sinkhole in February.
The car is still covered in dirt and bits of gravel. Cement or dirt is visible inside a broken taillight, on the rear of the car, on the hood and the interior floor. There are scratches and paint is chipped in places, the rear suspension is heavily damaged, the front fender is mangled and the windshield is completely smashed. The interior is dirty, but intact.
“I think the hardest thing to repair will be this windshield trim ring,” said David Bolognino, director of GM Design Fabrication operations in Warren. “That’s part of the structure and goes all the way down into the door pillars.”
Bolognino said restoration could take six months, or “however long it takes to make sure it’s done right.”
He expects about 20 to 25 employees from his team — which includes a trim shop, body shop, paint shop, metal shop and mold shop — will be involved in the work, plus others from inside GM and outside the company.
He said GM intends to make and repair parts to “preserve as much authenticity as possible.”
“The parts we have a choice on, we will always err on repairing them,” he said.
The car was insured and damage was assessed at about $30,000; that money was given to the museum, Chevrolet spokesman Monte Doran said. GM will cover the cost of restoring the car, Doran said.
The automaker already restored a 2009 Corvette ZR1, nicknamed the “Blue Devil” that was on loan to the museum from GM. That car is in storage while the museum works to fill the sinkhole, a $3.2 million project expected to wrap up in July.
In February, GM had said it would try to restore all eight Corvettes that fell into the 45-foot wide and 60-foot long hole. The museum later determined just three could be restored. The museum will work with a Corvette restoration shop to have a black 1962 Corvette fixed.
Museum visitors can view construction through a window. Four damaged Corvettes remain on display during construction including the 1962 Corvette, 2009 1.5-millionth Corvette, 1993 40th-Anniversary Ruby Red Corvette and 1993 ZR-1 Spyder.
Photo Courtesy: National Corvette Museum